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Every Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Tom Harte shares a few thoughts on food and shares recipes. A founder of “My Daddy’s Cheesecake,” a bakery/café in Cape Girardeau, a food columnist for The Southeast Missourian, and a cookbook author, he also blends his passion for food with his passion for classical music in his daily program, The Caffe Concerto.

A Harte Appetite: The Most Dangerous Cake In The World

Gail/Flickr, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

What’s the most dangerous cake in the world?  Some say wedding cake, but a better answer, I think, is mug cake.

A mug cake is a single serving of cake made by quickly stirring up batter in a mug and nuking it in the microwave.  It apparently came to widespread public attention in a YouTube video back in 2009.  The publisher of the video said she got the recipe in an email, but a year earlier the King Arthur Flour company published a mug cake recipe in its magazine observing that the recipe was already making the rounds.  The cake was dubbed “dangerous” because its recipe puts you only five minutes away from chocolate cake any time day or night.

Historically, however, the origins of mug cake go back much further than this century.  A form of cake, it is a descendent of ancient cakes which are mentioned in texts as old as 4000 years ago.

The most immediate predecessor to the mug cake is the cupcake.  The first recipe for one goes back to 1796 and calls for them to be made in actual coffee or tea cups.

Naturally, to make a mug cake you have to have a mug, but the existence of cake and the existence of mugs did not automatically spawn the mug cakes we know today.  That would only come once the microwave oven was invented, in 1946.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Today mug cakes have become something of a sensation.  If you Google mug cake, for example, you’ll get more than 100 million hits.
Though you won’t win the British Bake Off with a mug cake (only behind closed doors would Mary Berry ever make one), there is a place for such an indulgence.  A mug cake offers a quick on-the-spot delicacy and is so simple you really don’t even need a kitchen.

So don’t throw away your cake pans or your KitchenAid, but under the right circumstances, when it comes to cake, give your mug a shot.

Tres Leches Mug Cake

This cake, a staple of the Mexican dessert table, is thought to be a take on tiramisu or trifle.  The credit for its increased popularity goes to the Nestle company which just happens to make all three of the milks needed to make the concoction.  A recipe often appeared on their can labels.

1 egg
¼ cup oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soft butter
? cup self-rising flour
? teaspoon cinnamon
? cup sweetened condensed milk
? cup evaporated milk
? cup whole milk
Whipped cream and caramel sauce for garnish

Combine egg, oil, and sugar thoroughly until thick and slightly fluffy.  Whisk in butter.  Add flour and cinnamon and mix until just combined.  Spoon batter into two standard-sized coffee mugs and microwave on high for one minute until tops are set.  Remove mugs from microwave and poke holes all over tops.  Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk and pour over tops of mugs until milk mixture soaks into cakes.  Cool five minutes and garnish with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Tom Harte is a retired faculty member from Southeast Missouri State University where he was an award-winning teacher, a nationally recognized debate coach, and chair of the department of Speech Communication and Theatre.
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